In a recent statement, European Tour CEO Pelley said whilst correct, the ruling against Li was still unfair.

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Keith Pelley Says Haotong Li Penalty “Grossly Unfair”

The last couple of days in the golf world have been dominated by the penalty given to Haotong Li at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Judged to have been lined up by his caddie, Li was penalised two strokes which shoved him from third place all the way down to a tie for 12th. As a result the penalty cost him around €100,000.

Fellow tour pros have rushed to the defence of the Chinese youngster, such as Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace and Pablo Larrazabal.

Now European Tour CEO Keith Pelley has got involved giving his thoughts on the matter. In a statement he said;

“Let me state initially that, under the new Rules of Golf issues on January 1, 2019, the decision made by our referees was correct, under the strict wording of the rules. It is my strong belief, however, that the fact there is no discretion available to our referees when implementing rulings such as this is wrong and should be addressed immediately.

“Everyone I have spoken to about this believes, as I do, that there was no malice or intent from Li Haotong, nor did he gain any advantage from his, or his caddie’s split-second actions. Therefore the subsequent two-shot penalty, which moved him from T3 in the tournament to T12, was grossly unfair in my opinion.

“In an era where we are striving to improve all aspects of golf, we need to be careful and find the proper balance between maintaining the integrity of the game and promoting its global appeal.

“I have spoken personally to R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers to voice my opposition to the fact there is no discretion available to our referees in relation to this ruling, and I will be making additional representation to the R&A in the near future to discuss the matter further.”

Bryson DeChambeau won the tournament by seven strokes, claiming his first European Tour title. He remains fifth in the world and will head to the Saudi International tournament next week.

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